independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

The Irish dancing was preceded by some twerking... and then Winnie Mandela walked onto the stage

A troupe of Irish dancers, from South Africa, performed at the event.
A troupe of Irish dancers, from South Africa, performed at the event.

THIS is no ordinary summit. There was fist pumping, balls of promises, Irish dancing preceded by twerking - and then Winnie Mandela walked onto the stage.

Even the hardest cynic would struggle not to be a little bit caught up in the buzz as One Young World turned its attention to Dublin.

Around 1,300 of the world's best and brightest were treated - not subjected - to a video of Michael D Higgins, copious shots of The Spire and a troupe of South African dancers who could give Riverdance a run for their money.

At the end Dublin got a standing ovation as one delegate after another vowed to find their way to Ireland next October.

Mandela was the surprise guest and wow did the crowd, particularly the locals, love her. Despite everything, there was no ambiguity about the fact that she is still a national hero, the mother of a nation.

She mentioned her former husband five times during her speech, each time raising the already beating enthusiasm.

"As a grandmother, mother and great grandmother, I ask myself where we have failed you – what we could have done better and what the future holds for you," she said.

"Comrade [Nelson] Mandela says there can be no greater reflection of a society than how it treats its children and here you are creating a world that we should have created for you.

"If we are to pay respect to our beloved Madiba, use us as you champion your way forward. You are the torch bearers of our future economy that empowers the youth for the better."

But bizarrely it was actually The Lord Mayor of Dublin who turned out to be the biggest attraction.

Whether they thought that Oisin Quinn could give them a freebie to Dublin or it was simply the "bling" chain, he was partically a celebrity in Joburg - and had the bulked up security to match.

In his speech he referred to Mary Manning who staged a two and a half year protest outside Dunnes Stores during the 1980s against their sale of South African produce while apartheid was rife. It hit all the right notes.

Over the past week the conversations have all been about how to change the world. Mary Manning was the perfect examle.

But I think that Dublin will change One Young World. In Johannesburg, this conference which brought together Kofi Annan, Bob Geldof, Muhammad Yunus, Richard Branson, Lauren Bush and Arianna Huffington, had its limitations.

Security was the main one with delegates encouraged not 'to wander too far'.

Next year that will be very different as they are encouraged to buy into our city and take a tour with a young Dubliner. The orgainsers are searching for hundreds of volunteers.

I was told this week would change my life. After meeting Nobel laureates, rock stars, astonishing entrepreneurs and definite world leaders of the future that remains to be seen.

But what I can say is that Dublin 2014 will change this conference and it will probably change Dublin.

A treat is in store.

Irish Independent

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